Worst Seattle Suburbs For 2020

We used science and data to determine which Seattle suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around Seattle.

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Seattle.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Seattle 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Seattle area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Seattle proper, although Mercer Island certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Seattle are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

We examined the 53 biggest suburbs of Seattle to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in washington lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Seattle in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Seattle for 2020:

  1. Tukwila (Photos)
  2. Bremerton (Photos)
  3. Algona (Photos)
  4. Fife (Photos)
  5. Everett (Photos)
  6. SeaTac (Photos)
  7. Port Orchard (Photos)
  8. Auburn (Photos)
  9. Tacoma (Photos)
  10. Kent (Photos)

What's the worst suburb of Seattle? Tukwila ranks as the worst suburb of Seattle for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Seattle that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in washington check out the best places in washington overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Seattle too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs To Live For 2020

Tukwila, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,198
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $57,215 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $287,300 (8th lowest)
More on Tukwila:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Tukwila, the absolute worst place to live around Seattle according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Tukwila beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Seattle area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 8th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Tukwila.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Bremerton, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 40,220
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $50,311 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $210,300 (1st lowest)
More on Bremerton:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Bremerton. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 17.9 miles to Seattle. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $50,311 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Algona, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,191
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $69,853 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $229,900 (2nd lowest)
More on Algona:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Seattle suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Algona on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Seattle suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

Fife, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,968
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $61,447 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $270,900 (5th lowest)
More on Fife:  Data | Photos

If you live in Fife, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 9th lowest Seattle suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 23rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Seattle. Remember, we looked at 53 cities for this study.

Fife is about 26.8 miles to downtown.

Everett, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 108,941
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $57,205 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $293,200 (11th lowest)
More on Everett:  Data | Photos

Everett has the distinction of being a Seattle suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Everett has the 11th lowest home values in the metro Seattle area, where the median price is $293,200. To put that into perspective, in Mercer Island, the median income is $212,396, which is the best in the area.

Everett has an unemployment rate of 5.73% which ranks 14th worst.

Seatac, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 28,925
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $58,995 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $288,600 (9th lowest)
More on Seatac:  Data | Photos

SeaTac has 28,925 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 12.424556265847649%.

Port Orchard, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,788
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Income: $70,598 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $292,200 (10th lowest)
More on Port Orchard:  Data | Photos

Ah, Port Orchard. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Seattle.

It's the place with the 8th most out of work residents in the Seattle metro area (6.01%).

Auburn, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 79,110
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $68,947 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $294,200 (12th lowest)
More on Auburn:  Data | Photos

Auburn is a city about 22.8 miles from Seattle, but Seattle probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Auburn has the 10th most uninsured people, 16th worst incomes, and has the 11th highest unemployment rate (5.86%) in the entire Seattle metro area.

Homes only cost $294,200 for a reason. That's cheap for Seattle standards.

Tacoma, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 210,103
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $58,617 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $250,400 (3rd lowest)
More on Tacoma:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Seattle, then Tacoma might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Seattle suburb.

About 5.66% of residents are out of work.

Kent, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 128,057
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Income: $68,880 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $316,400 (14th lowest)
More on Kent:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Seattle suburbs to call home is Kent.

Located 17.3 miles outside the city, Kents is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 10th highest unemployment rate (5.88%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Seattle for 2020

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2014-2018, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Seattle.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 3,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 53 suburbs to evaluate around Seattle.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 53 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Seattle." We're lookin' at you, Tukwila. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Seattle where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Seattle with Tukwila casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Seattle aren't all bad. Mercer Island takes the cake as the best place to live around Seattle.

  • Mercer Island
  • Sammamish
  • Medina

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Seattle Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Tukwila 20,198 $57,215 $287,300
2 Bremerton 40,220 $50,311 $210,300
3 Algona 3,191 $69,853 $229,900
4 Fife 9,968 $61,447 $270,900
5 Everett 108,941 $57,205 $293,200
6 Seatac 28,925 $58,995 $288,600
7 Port Orchard 13,788 $70,598 $292,200
8 Auburn 79,110 $68,947 $294,200
9 Tacoma 210,103 $58,617 $250,400
10 Kent 128,057 $68,880 $316,400
11 Federal Way 96,110 $66,011 $307,100
12 Burien 51,326 $62,315 $351,100
13 Des Moines 31,518 $63,875 $329,500
14 Sumner 9,898 $59,846 $282,700
15 Snohomish 9,875 $66,209 $342,600
16 Monroe 18,503 $79,661 $317,100
17 Poulsbo 10,301 $67,813 $335,600
18 Pacific 7,177 $61,157 $261,100
19 North Bend 6,830 $106,135 $489,800
20 Lynnwood 37,671 $59,416 $360,300
21 Renton 101,054 $74,756 $369,300
22 Black Diamond 4,434 $94,650 $399,800
23 Milton 7,543 $76,352 $279,200
24 University Place 32,907 $70,796 $339,900
25 Gig Harbor 9,382 $80,469 $417,100
26 Lake Stevens 31,778 $88,594 $330,200
27 Edgewood 10,599 $97,984 $367,400
28 Shoreline 56,020 $80,489 $452,100
29 Mountlake Terrace 21,106 $72,765 $352,700
30 Bothell 44,994 $94,986 $473,900
31 Fircrest 6,711 $77,292 $321,300
32 Issaquah 36,938 $101,508 $564,400
33 Kenmore 22,546 $105,007 $526,200
34 Covington 20,447 $98,687 $337,500
35 Newcastle 11,559 $119,125 $691,400
36 Edmonds 41,770 $87,693 $480,000
37 Normandy Park 6,678 $94,693 $584,000
38 Maple Valley 25,953 $107,299 $377,100
39 Woodinville 12,026 $100,306 $577,300
40 Mukilteo 21,264 $105,146 $544,200
41 Bellevue 142,242 $112,283 $737,000
42 Mill Creek 20,164 $101,239 $486,600
43 Brier 6,819 $122,623 $454,700
44 Kirkland 88,079 $109,715 $607,800
45 Duvall 7,811 $156,205 $452,200
46 Bainbridge Island 24,060 $115,230 $653,500
47 Lake Forest Park 13,378 $111,234 $559,000
48 Redmond 63,197 $123,449 $631,700
49 Snoqualmie 13,317 $144,148 $582,000
50 Clyde Hill 3,295 $212,396 $2,000,001
51 Medina 3,260 $192,120 $2,000,001
52 Sammamish 64,049 $165,318 $749,000
53 Mercer Island 25,492 $142,413 $1,135,200

How Is Your Town In ?

4 thoughts on “Worst Seattle Suburbs, 2020

  1. Just the fact that Sumner made this “Worst” list shows how flawed this fake study is. Sumner has one of the best school districts around, it has a true small town flavor even though it is located in the middle of the Puget Sound metropolis, the downtown and surrounding area of homes is about as idyllic as you could hope for in a suburban neighborhood, The entire town is “Walkable” do to the flat nature of the valley it resides in. And on top of all that there is a Sounder Rail Station that makes it an ideal place to commute from. Excuse us for being reactionary to this piece of trash and frankly mean spirited article – but as far as Sumner goes, you could not be more wrong. Maybe if you pull your head out of your Urban snobbery sometime and give us a visit you’ll find out how wrong you are.

  2. And further more… Why in the world would “Low population density” be a bad thing?? I praise the Sumner City Council every day for NOT allowing gigantic Mega-Apartment complexes to move in and swallow our town (just as they have destroyed the other southend cities of Kent, Auburn and Federal Way). By design Sumner has an “industrial” northend full of businesses and warehouses (i.e. tax generators) while the original downtown and surrounding homes remains pretty much as it always has been for decades. This is the type of town where the 3rd/4th generations of families are graduating from Sumner High School…yep, obviously people are fleeing the town because it’s such a “pit”.

  3. Wow. So my community, Midland, is considered a “suburb of Seattle”…. REALLY? Since when? It’s not even in the same county as Seattle, and most Midlandites don’t even consider themselves a suburb of Tacoma, so certainly not a suburb of Seattle.

    FYI – the on-time graduation rates for FPSD has exceeded the state averages the last 2 years. If you look just at FPHS the ‘Midland high school’ the last few years, they have surpassed the state average on time graduation rate by 10-15% depending on the year. For the 14-15 school year, FPHS had a 92.7% on time graduation rate compared to the state which was 77.2%. GATES brings down the overall district percentage but FPSD still surpassed the state average and Seattle School District graduation rates.

    As for home values….

    Midland was founded in 1890 (originally founded by Ezra & Oliver Meeker, then established when the railroad tracks were met by the trolley track extension). Many of the homes (and commercial buildings) were built long, long go, and built as fairly simple & modest structures. We’re known for having super large lots – some covering multiple acres, with many others being large parcels at 50-150’ wide and 100-150’ deep. We’re quite rural in nature, even though our community abuts the south/east edge of Tacoma city. Many Midlandites farm on their properties, and some raise livestock & fowl. Driving through our community on any given day, you may see people walking a goat on a leash to the corner store, while at the same time, passing by an upscale bistro restaurant (opened by a Las Vegas chef who *chose* Midland out of the entire world to establish his fine restaurant).

    Midland is unique in relation to its people as well – people who have a strong sense of community, and who work together through Midland Matters, where 900+ community members discuss issues of importance to Midland – whether it be crime-related, lost/found pets, nurturing new & old Midland businesses by encouraging the full-on support of ‘buy local’ concepts.

    Our County Councilmember, Rick Talbert, has worked with us Midlandites over the past 6 years, and has brought us many great things, including an amendment to the county parking code, to allow Historic Downtown Midland to use the county right-of-way for public parking. Our downtown, having been built-out in the early 1900’s didn’t leave room for parking, and that created a huge obstacle for our downtown revitalization effort – so we fixed it and are trekking forth with great success.

    Granted, Midland has no sidewalks, but instead our roads are old, narrow, ditch-lined and dark due to an extreme shortage of street lighting. We have other problems too, such as a shortage of law enforcement. Not too long ago we had less than 3/4 of one officer per thousand citizens (FBI recommended standard are 2 LEO’s per 1,000 citizens), which is far lower than our neighboring cities, however that ratio affects everyone in unincorporated Pierce County–not just Midland.

    We are a proud community of people, and to be listed in this article based on stats that were gathered in 2009 (I worked for the Census during the enumerating phase that gathered the stats you used) seems a stretch. And back to the geography piece of it – Midland is 45 minutes from Seattle, and is in Pierce County, not King, so this article comes off as rather desperate, IMO, and surely if anyone were considering moving to Midland but read your article and decided not to because of it, then I must ask, what good purpose have you really served? None that I can see.

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